The CDC calls the Oral Health Plan “a road map for accomplishing the goals and objectives that have been developed in collaboration with partners and stakeholders.” In 2002, Illinois was one of the first states to publish a state-wide Oral Health Plan. Now 18 years later, the Division of Oral Health will be rolling out Oral Health Plan IV Eliminating Inequities in Oral Health (IOHP IV) covering the time period of 2021 to 2025.
Oral health as a serious health issue first came into focus with the 2000 U.S. Surgeon General’s landmark report, Oral Health in America. That seminal report documented America’s oral “burden of disease” and presented evidence of a “silent epidemic” of dental and oral diseases. The report’s central message was that oral health is essential to general health and can be improved despite several significant barriers.
Illinois, like many states, used the Surgeon General’s report as a springboard to engage partners interested in improving oral health and was one of the first states to develop a state oral health plan. Illinois’ first oral health plan, Roadmap to the Future: Oral Health in Illinois (2002), used the five action steps from the framework established in Oral Health in America as policy goals and included scores of priorities and recommendations for strategic interventions from a series of town hall meetings and a statewide summit. With the intent of building a culture of good oral health across the state and guiding actions aimed at improving oral health status, that initial effort was used as a model for other state oral health plans throughout the nation.
Oral Health Care in Illinois, the Illinois Oral Health Plan II (2007) also followed the framework of the Surgeon General’s report, reviewing the state’s progress in addressing the original five‐year plan and making recommendations for the future. Oral Health Care in Illinois called for greater involvement of the medical provider community to help prevent oral disease.
Healthy People, Healthy Smiles: Assuring an Agenda for Action was Illinois’ third oral health plan (2012). It took a slightly different approach from past plans by modeling its framework after the Healthy People 2020 national oral health objectives, but comprehensively was still informed by the Surgeon General’s 2000 Call to Action. Healthy People, Healthy Smiles again provided a focus for action that resulted in several improvements.